In a move that surprised no-one, many of us over-did it at Christmas! Although it is nothing short of
obligatory to have a few glasses of wine and ‘fill your wellies’ with Christmas dinner, this wave of overindulgence
quickly transformed feelings of festiveness into feelings of tiredness and fatigue. As if
heading out into the bitter winter conditions isn’t a big enough excuse itself, you are also less inclined to
partake in physical activity.
There’s nothing sweet about piling on the pounds – especially with that ‘get healthy’ aim on your new
year’s resolution list and sugar really can sabotage your metabolism and vitality. As a nation described
to be ‘addicted to sugar’, it is easy for us Britons to succumb to consumption of the stuff – especially
when it is hidden in what we think are otherwise healthy foods. Keeping sugar to a minimum helps
restore the body’s ability to process and eliminate toxins that have accumulated – particularly from a
diet high in sugar and fat which lacks nutrient density, and thus it is essential to detox and get back on
track to feeling healthy, rejuvenated and ready to take on the new year ahead.
Believe it or not, we can support and fuel our bodies by reducing sugar intake to a minimum. Although
glucose is essential in cellular energy production, we do not require a constant intake of it and there are
ways we can teach our bodies to synthesise glucose from stored and dietary fats – particularly on days
where moderate physical activity is not a priority.
However, it’s getting to know how to break a sugar-bond that is important and this process can be tricky
to begin with – especially if you’re a new kid on the block when it comes to detoxing. Hopefully this blog
will help you understand how to detox by cutting down sugar intake without too much confusion.
Sugar: what is it and how is it metabolised?
If we were to imagine sugar and the products which are high in sugar, we would generally imagine
products high in refined sugar such as bags of table sugar, chocolate and other sweeties. There are only
a minority of people who would include the likes of crisps, pasta, white rice, potatoes, sweetcorn and
even fruit juice to that list. Sugars are a part of a family known as ‘carbohydrates’ consisting of the disaccharides
sucrose (refined sugar), maltose and lactose (milk sugar). Sucrose, lactose and fructose
(monosaccharide found in fruit) are most commonly consumed in the western diet. Each of these sugars
contain glucose which is the most readily available source of energy which every cell in our body
Long chains of glucose form starch – the sappy, white liquid you see when rinsing or boiling white rice or
the residue left after cutting up potatoes. Although it doesn’t taste recognisably sweet, during digestion,
starch is broken down into glucose and metabolised exactly the same way as table sugar! Unfortunately,
this causes our blood glucose levels to spike, requiring a surge of our dearest hormone insulin for glucose
to be transported into our cells and be used as energy. This spike can often leave us feeling lethargic and
is known as the ‘sugar slump’.
So what happens if we don’t use up all of the sugars we consume?
Well, if a moderately active individual consumes carbohydrate after their workout, the sugar (glucose)
will first be converted to glycogen by the liver and replete the muscles. Muscle glycogen is required in
reparation and recovery of skeletal muscle and as an immediate endogenous energy source for
subsequent exercise. It is therefore essential to replenish glycogen by consuming carbohydrate postexercise.
However, if carbohydrates are consumed at a rate that is not matched by an individual’s
physical activity level, excess glucose is eventually converted to triglycerides and stored as adipose tissue
or body fat. If energy consumed exceeds energy expended for long periods, weight gain occurs with
shifts in metabolic rate also.
Today, the natural evolutionary ability of human-beings to store an energy depot in adipose-form after
times of feast in preparation for periods of famine has been overridden, causing 600 million people to
be affected by overweight and obesity globally; thus, it is now considered an epidemic. This has
occurred with advances in economic and technological research, making food more accessible to a
population who generally lack self-control and occupy a sedentary lifestyle. It is also consumption of
high sugar, high fat processed foods along with fizzy drinks containing high quantities of fructose or high
fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are most responsible for piling on the pounds. I therefore feel it is
essential to understand the concept of earning carbohydrates: eating them only after physical activity
during the detox period. If you are aiming to lose a few pounds, this routine of consuming carbs after an
intense workout can be carried out long-term. It also gives one the incentive to get out, go and ‘just do
it’ as Nike suggest!
To start you off, why not get some help with initiating that sugar detox here at Hanover Healthfoods?
We stock the Viridian 7-day Sugar Detox kit created to support a sugar-restricted diet, supporting:
Improving mediation of blood glucose
This product has been formulated to help you cut out sugar for one week, providing you with a 7-day
meal plan which helps eliminate a 500g bag of added sugar from the diet. The kit also contains a
cinnamon and chromium complex with a little added alpha-lipoic acid too.
Chromium is a useful micronutrient during a sugar detox. The presence of chromium chemically
promotes an upregulation of a functional low-molecular weight chromium binding substance. When
insulin binds to an insulin receptor, this substance stimulates chromium to bind to insulin receptors too,
which allows more glucose to enter our cells than it would without it. It therefore increases insulin
sensitivity and helps mediate glucose metabolism, reducing the time that glucose circulates around the
body. With a steadier glycaemic load, chromium helps us avoid eating excess sugar by reducing cravings
which are associated with spikes in post-prandial blood-glucose. Studies have suggested that 500mcg is
required to stabilise blood sugar. Luckily this product contains just that!
If like me, you had never thought there were different varieties of cinnamon, it is the Ceylon variety
rather than cassia which is best for supporting blood sugar control. The viridian supplement contains
200mg of the Ceylon stuff. This type of cinnamon has been shown to have biologically active substances
with insulin-mimetic properties. Studies have also demonstrated that cinnamon enhances glucose
uptake by activating the insulin receptor activity, auto-phosphorylation of the insulin receptor, and
glycogen synthase activity, working well with the effects of chromium.
Finally, the alpha-lipoic-acid (ALA) is a natural antioxidant which is both fat and water soluble (unlike
other antioxidant vitamins) and is naturally occurring in the body. It has been shown to help lower blood
sugar levels, and is of use in diabetics who experience neuropathy due to in vivo glucose build up and
free radical exposure in the extremities, causing nerve pain and tingling.
Another product which you can try along with the viridian sugar detox is the Pukka ‘Clean me Green’
detox kit. This product is designed to put a spring in your step, bringing together the power of organic
plants in one, easy to follow, 2 week programme. It claims to ‘clean you green’ through the power of
organic wellbeing with expertly blended Detox and Clean Matcha Green teas, along with the Clean
Greens powder – a super-blend of 11 true foods including nettle, kale, wheat grass juice, seed sprouts,
freshwater plants and digestive herbs. High in essential fatty acids, iodine and chlorophyll, this blend remineralises
the skin and naturally boosts energy levels. The dandelion also promotes bile flow, helping
to detoxify the liver.
Along with these kits, ensure to drink around 3+ litres of water per day during your detox and allow
your diet to be at least 25-30% protein, 20-25% wholegrain and 50% vegetables, limiting fruit intake to
one portion per day. You’re probably thinking ‘oh but what’s wrong with fruit?’ If you are sticking to a
sugar-free diet (or as near to one as possible) the sugars in fruit are still unwanted and, quite frankly,
there isn’t much you won’t get from vegetables that is in fruit anyway, so make sure you’re eating a
variety of veggies every day! If you workout, by all means enjoy some pasta or your favourite sandwich
but always try to manage your diet according to your activity level. Portion control is also something to
be weary of… particularly if you are cooking rice or pasta which seems to quadruple in quantity once
cooked and you feel you must eat it all anyway (we’ve all been there!). Weighing these sorts of food will
give you more consistency and help avoid a carb overload.
Good luck and come visit us in store for more info on these products or what to eat or avoid on a low